In Woodland Trust’s new report, released yesterday, Northern Ireland was ranked the 12th worst for biodiversity loss in the world.
The Trees and Woods: At the Heart of Nature Recovery in Northern Ireland report outlines the country’s habitat, wildlife and woodland decline, citing the future of some of the ‘most important’ habitats and wildlife are at stake.
With only 1% of woodland ASSIs (Areas of Special Scientific Interest) in Northern Ireland currently in favourable condition, and 61% in unfavourable condition.
The report also cites the rise in grey squirrel numbers as a ‘significant’ threat to the sustainable management of woodlands in the country, in reference to the wider issue of invasive species having ‘serious impacts’.
While there is no legally binding target to recover nature in Northern Ireland, the Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 stated a mission to ‘make progress towards halting overall biodiversity loss.’
The Woodland Trust report puts forward recommendations on ways to safeguard and restore the country’s natural environment, these include:
The development of a Tree and Woods Strategy for Northern Ireland to replace the Northern Ireland Forestry Strategy, published in 2006.
Which would include a new target to increase woodland cover to 14% by 2050, and the restoration of 3,000-hectares of ancient and long-established woodland by 2030.
Passing legislation and allocating funds to adopt and implement the National Nature Recovery Network for Northern Ireland, with an associated framework of guidance.
Increasing access to nature while supporting its recovery by ensuring everyone has access to a nature-rich green space within 10 minutes of where they live.
Nature and semi-natural wooded habitats and trees are an ‘essential and integral part’ of Northern Ireland’s nature and native wildlife.
The State of Nature for Northern Ireland report shows that of the 2,450 species found in the country, 11% are currently threatened with extinction from Ireland as a whole.
Highlighting the importance of safeguarding Northern Ireland’s natural environment in a bid to restore its lost biodiversity and improve upon its ecological and societal landscapes.